On Saturday April 8th I ran the Hershey 10k as my 100th lifetime race! This was my 5th year running the 10k (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013). I go back year after year because it is semi-local, well priced, well organized and you get some nice swag! Plus I love kicking off the spring running season with a 10k!
In the past I have driven to Hershey (about an hour and a half drive) on Friday, the night before the race. This year I decided to try leaving super early from home and driving straight there. I left home around 4:30am (yikes) and picked up my dad. The drive was easy and there was no one else on the roads. We got to Hershey Park Stadium around 6:15 and had plenty of time to pick up our bibs and shirts and check a bag before the 7:30 start. I also got to pick up a special mug for being a 5 year participant of the race! I loved the idea of something special for runners that come back year after year!
I don’t typically check a bag for this race because you can park right near the start/finish. Since we were driving home from the race directly, we decided to check our bags with a change of clothes, baby wipes, etc so we’d have less walking back and forth to do post-race. This worked out fine.
This year they seemed to really be upping the security in the stadium and were not allowing anyone with any type of bag into the stadium itself (they had a separate area for the bag check.) So, you weren’t allowed to take a bag inside the stadium, where packet pickup and the restrooms were, which seemed to be causing a bit of confusion for a lot of people. This is the only area where I think things could have been communicated a little bit better.
It was chilly – in the high 30s and low 40s, so I wore full length tights, and a long sleeved shirt. I also had a jacket in my car but decided not to wear it, and instead layered the participant tech shirt we got (that was short sleeved this year) under my long sleeved shirt. I figured that since it was only 6ish miles my risk of chafing was pretty minimal. 🙂
As we were milling around a bunch of Hershey’s characters came out so we snapped some photos.
I also started thinking about a pace I could try to aim for, because I figured it would be awesome if I could PR my 100th race! In 2016 I PRed the race with a 10:45 pace, and in September I ran the Hershey Half Marathon as part of a relay team and ran my leg at slightly over a 10:30 pace. So I thought that maybe I would aim for a 10:30 pace but take it mile by mile. This course is pretty relentless with its hills so I knew I just had focus on the mile I was in.
The race started right on time at 7:30am and I crossed the start line shortly there after.
Mile 1 – It is easy to take the first mile of this race very quickly because you immediately go down a little bit of a hill, heading under an overpass but then are hit with an equal uphill. I was flying. I told myself I would have to reel it in to get through the hills that were coming and finish the race strong but was feeling good so I went with it. Interestingly the 1k marker was at the 1 mile mark, oops. The kilometer markers were off for the first half of the race (at the miles instead) so I was glad that I had my watch. 9:38
Mile 2 – The second mile continues up a bit of an uphill and I knew I would slow down some. I focused on staying strong and exerting a consistent amount of energy on the uphill and flat part that came after. You do a loop around the parking lot before making a right on Hersheypark Drive. 9:52
Mile 3 – This is the hardest mile of the course for me because you are running up Hersheypark Drive, going up a slight incline, and it feels like you are never going to be not running uphill again. I decided not to stop at the water stop because I didn’t want to have to slow my pace when I knew I didn’t need water for 6 miles. 9:41
When I hit mile three I switched my watch over to the cumulative time and was thrilled to see that I had hit the 3 mile mark in 29:17!!! I couldn’t believe I came in under 30 minutes. I knew I was in a really good place to PR (which meant coming in under 1:06:47). But I also wanted to see what else I could do so I continued forcing myself to push, knowing that my pace would probably slow down some as I got tired from the hills. Unfortunately I managed to accidentally stop my watch when I was switching the screen so I lost about 10 seconds of data and my watch ended up being a little short in the end. So the paces I’ve got for the second half of the race are probably a tad slower than I was actually running.
Mile 4 – During mile 4 you turn off of Hersheypark Drive and head behind the outlets and there is a slight downhill followed by yet another gradual uphill. 9:37
Mile 5 – This is my favorite mile of the race because there is a nice downhill and you make a right to enter the parks. From there you loop through the water park area of the park and make a 180 turn to head towards the center of the park. It is a slight downhill followed by a slight uphill but it doesn’t matter because it’s so fun running by all of the rides and the energy of the runners is really great. I kept looking at my average pace and made a goal of keeping it under a 10 minute mile even though my legs were feeling fatigued by now. I kept visualizing the finish line clock with a 1:02 on it and felt that it was an achievable time given the paces I was running and what I knew was left of the course. 10:13
Mile 6 – The last full mile takes you by all of the roller coasters, and you are greeted with some awesome downhills. Around 5.75 you exit the park and have one last uphill to get up to the stadium. Looking at my watch I knew I was going to come in somewhere around 1:01/1:02 and was so thrilled. 10:10
Mile 6.2 – From there you go down the side of the stadium and enter it. As soon as I made the left turn into the stadium I started sprinting, knowing I was going to be super close to 1:01. 9:49 pace
When I stopped my watch it said 1:00:52 and was thrilled that I had come in under 1:01!!! A few minutes later I got a text with the official results – 1:00:51.
I was so incredibly happy and thrilled about how I had done. I really have no idea where a 9:48 average pace came from, but I am so glad I was able to hit those kind of paces on a tough course. I also love that my 100th race time starts with “1:00”. It seems kind of perfect. 🙂
I waited for my dad to finish and took a selfie with the craziest hair ever.
I kept looking at the results and was amazed after they all came in and it says I came in at 202/598 in my age group and 556/1789 in women and 1042/2634 overall. A-mazing. Definitely not anything I thought I would ever achieve.
Post race we grabbed our checked bags and asked a security guard if we could take them into the stadium to change in the restrooms and luckily he was understanding. In fresh clothes we walked over to Chocolate World for a few treats before hitting the road.
I am so thankful that I was able to celebrate my 100th race with my 5th year at the Hershey 10k and a 6 minute PR!!
Next goal: Sub-60 10k. 😉